Kevin Williamson Breaks Silence On His Firing From 'The Atlantic'

“I was making a point about the sloppy rhetoric of the abortion debate"

Kevin Williamson, managing editor of National Review, speaks during the Council for the United States and Italy (Consiusa) Biennial Conference in New York, U.S., on Friday, Dec. 10, 2010.
Bloomberg / Contributor / Getty Images

After two weeks of flying under the radar following his firing from The Atlantic for suggesting in 2014 the women who undergo abortions should be "hanged," Kevin Williamson of the National Review has finally shared his side of the story.

To recap, Williamson had been hired by The Atlantic as a "Never Trump" conservative, which was immediately met with fierce blowback on social media by leftist trolls led in part by Media Matters. The comment that drew the most ire was one Williamson made while appearing on a podcast in 2014 where he said “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide" and should be met with hanging.

“I’m kind of squishy on capital punishment in general,” Williamson added. “I’m absolutely willing to see abortion treated like a regular homicide under the criminal code.”

Pro-lifers could certainly disagree with Williamson's conclusions. Most pro-lifers are in agreement that the abortionists should face the harsher penalty while the women should receive treatment, given that many of the women are brainwashed and deluded into undergoing abortions by feminists who tell them they are just eliminating a "tiny clump of cells."

The Atlantic firing Williamson had little do with him saying something disagreeable and more to do with the magazine being unwilling to debate about abortion. The Atlantic claimed that Williamson's views violated their policy, but they were more than willing to allow racialists like Ta-Nahisi Coates to refer to 9/11 first responders as being "not human." Even more hypocritically, The Atlantic had previously featured the writings of Princeton professor Peter Singer, who advocates for legalized infanticide.

For that, Williamson published an essay in the Wall Street Journal clarifying what he meant by those 2014 comments while highlighting a sober truth: leftists speak out of both sides of their mouth on free speech.

“I’m not eager to be any sort of executioner,” he wrote. “I am one of what I suspect is a very small number of American journalists to have seen a hanging (a lynching in India), and that kind of violence is worth taking seriously.”

“I had responded to a familiar pro-abortion argument: that pro-lifers should not be taken seriously in our claim that abortion is the willful taking of an innocent human life unless we are ready to punish women who get abortions with long prison sentences,” Williamson explained.

“I was making a point about the sloppy rhetoric of the abortion debate, not a public-policy recommendation,” Williamson said. “Such provocations can sometimes clarify the terms of a debate, but in this case, I obscured the more meaningful questions about abortion and sparked the sort of hysteria I’d meant to point out and mock.”

“Abortion isn’t littering or securities fraud or driving 57 in a 55-mph zone,” he said. “If it isn’t homicide, then it’s no more morally significant than getting a tooth pulled. If it isn’t homicide, then there’s no real argument for prohibiting it. If it is homicide, then we need to discuss more seriously what should be done to put an end to it.”

As to why he chose the more violent execution of hanging over other methods, Williamson claimed he was just keeping it straight, because all execution is violent and the “involvement of the medical profession in the willful imposition of death is a perversion of its creed, whether in the matter of abortion or in the matter of executing criminals."

Williamson concluded his essay saying that The Atlantic did not fire him because he expressed an unpopular opinion, but because leftists are not prepared to discuss abortion honestly.

“For all the chatter today about diversity of viewpoint and the need for open discourse, there aren’t very many people on the pro-choice side, in my experience, who are ready to talk candidly about the reality of abortion,” he said.

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